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Tré Wilcox: Under -- and Over -- Fire

Tré Wilcox almost got kicked off Top Chef last night -- but at least he got in the plug for his restaurant.
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For a change, guest Top Chef blogger Anthony Bourdain's post concerning this week's episode is up in a timely fashion. So rather than belabor the obvious -- when no one gets kicked off a reality show, we all get kicked in the junk -- let's see instead what the galloping gourmand has to say about an episode in which Shinsei's Casey Thompson could have gotten the ax, Abacus' Tré Wilcox should have been told to pack his knives and go and the rest of their fellow cheftestants were never that far behind 'em. Because, look, you screw up barbecue and a burger (as Wilcox has done this season) and no matter how many Elimination Challenges you've won (tres for Tré), there's a good chance you're over, done. Last night, Wilcox served as executive chef at his team's "restaurant," where he and Casey and tall-tall C.J. and sweaty-sweaty Brian served to Daniel Boulud, and Wilcox kinda blew it -- and he knew it, which only made it worse. On his blog, Tony takes Tré to task:

Can you believe it? I know ... I know ... I like him too. But he had an awful, potentially terminal night.

After missing the point of the Burger Challenge with what was essentially a steak sandwich tarted up with lobster, he completely fell down with his Elimination choice of Wild Mushroom and Gorgonzola Crusted Filet with Chernobyl Potatoes.

Let's put aside that I personally hate the dinosaur era idea of "crusting" that blandest of beef cuts (filet mignon) with seasonally inappropriate wild mushrooms and overpowering roquefort cheese (It's so ... TGI McFunsters and so ... '70s!). That in the sweltering summer heat of Miami, Tre could come up with nothing more imaginative than filet mignon? Let's put that aside too. Tre stepped into "Pack Your Knives" territory with his awful, over smoked and butt-ugly potatoes. And he KNEW they were unservable. NO potatoes are always better than seriously screwed up potatoes that blow out the palate and ruin the whole dish. It's the kind of decision chefs have to make all the time and Tre made a bad one, ruining, in one swoop, his whole offering, and putting himself in the line of fire.

Tre should take comfort, however, in the fact that he was by no means alone out there.

Lemme just say this: I've eaten Wilcox's Seared Sea Scallop on Corn Black Truffle Pudding; I watched him make it during a cooking class, ate a sample off a Styrofoam plate, then went home and made the same thing, and not only is delicious off any surface, but it's damned near impossible to screw up. Because it's corn. And scallops. And truffles. Lemme know if you want the recipe; I'll dig it up and e-mail you a copy.

Thompson kinda skated by; she wasn't much seen last night, as the other team likewise served a completely out-of-season and partially inedible menul. Hence, next week's do-over. Oh, and to the four Friends who wanted to know why Thompson didn't make it out as a Dallas Observer Music Awards presenter as promised on Tuesday night, well, let's just say Restaurant Week got off to a little bit of a rough start at Shinsei, requiring Thompson's undivided attention. But all's well now, so we're told. --Robert Wilonsky

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